IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Multilanguage and Cognition Lab

Understanding how multilanguage acquisition can reshape our mind.

The Multilanguage and Cognition Lab (MULTAC) is formed by a team of researchers interested in studying multilanguage acquisition and its effects on cognitive development across the lifespan. 

" Language is literally the stuff of life. The more you can speak of other people's languages, the more you can be part of their lives and enrich your own."
Our mission


Throughout history, philosophers, educators, health professionals, linguists and psychologists advocated either disadvantages or advantages of 'being bilingual'.

Still today, bilingual and multilingual school children in the UK are labeled as EAL (English as an Additional Language) pupils, which arguably implies a vaguely negative connotation or the categorisation of multilingual learners as having some sort of ‘special needs’.

Anecdotally, there are still cases in which educators discourage multilingual families to raise their children as multilinguals. We reject this argument, and instead encourage researchers in this field to engage with parents and educators. 

Today, it is estimated that a large majority of people in the world speak two or more languages, and that this majority is destined to grow as a consequence of migration flows and globalised employment opportunities.

Multilanguage learning

Multilanguage learning is an inevitable real life global phenomenon, and the impact of this escalating trend on cognition deserves careful and thorough analysis. 

At MULTAC, we adopt a sophisticated developmental approach, including quantitative, qualitative and neuroimaging methods to study the effects of a multilinguistic experience across the lifespan.

Lab members

Academic staff

PhD students

Research projects

Ongoing projects

  • Is the bilingual advantage linked to the depth of knowledge of two languages? - Roberto Filippi & Lucia Bigozzi – UCL Global Exchange Funds
  • The impact of COVID-19 on early literacy and numeracy amongst disadvantaged pupils in Israel - Roberto Filippi, Li Wei and Yarden Kedar
  • Effects of biliteracy on cognitive and social development in school children - Kasia Oberc, Li Wei and Roberto Filippi
  • The relationship between linguistic experience and cognitive control in adulthood - Xuran Han, Li Wei and Roberto Filippi
  • Cognitive effects of multilanguage acquisition in ADHD children - Chris Pelz, Emily Midouhas and Roberto Filippi

Completed projects


Under review

Kakoulidou, M., Pavlopoulou, G., Filippi, R., Knight, F., Hurry, J. (Under review). When you are forced to read, you are bored to it”: An Interview Study on the Role of Motivation in the Reading of Children With and Without a Diagnosis of ADHD.

Purpuri, S., Vasta, N., Filippi, R., Li W. and Mulatti, C. (Under review). The Foreign Language Effect on Core Knowledge Confusion, Superstition and Conspiracy. The role of semantic acquisition in second language learning. Submitted to the International Journal of Bilingualism

Oberc, K., Vettori, G., Bigozzi, L., Filippi, R. (Under review). Effects of bilingual education on cognitive development: A pilot study. Submitted to the International Journal of Bilingualism

Creed, E., Filippi, R., Holliman, A.J. (Under review). Teaching bilingually: Unlocking the academic and cognitive potentials - Teachers' insight. Submitted to Education Sciences.


Han, X., Li, W., Filippi, R. (2024). Modulating bilingual language production and cognitive control: how bilingual language experience matters. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition


Lerner, I., Guijarro-Fuentes, P., Filippi, R., Li, F., Schwieter, J.W. (2023). New Ideas in Language Sciences: Language Acquisition

Purpuri, S., Vasta, N., Filippi, R., Li W. and Mulatti, C. (2023). Does language shape the way we think? A review of the Foreign Language Effect across domains. International Journal of Bilingualism

Purpuri, S., Vasta, N., Li W., Filippi, R., Mulatti, C. (2023). The Foreign Language Effect on Tolerance of Ambiguity. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition


Filippi, R., Bright, P. A cross-sectional developmental approach to bilingualism: Exploring neurocognitive effects across the lifespan. Ampersand, 100097.

Han, X., Li, W., Filippi, R., (2022). Modulating effects of interactional contexts on bilinguals’ cognitive control: evidence for the Adaptive Control Hypothesis. International Journal of Bilingualism, doi.org/10.1177/13670069221102011.

Filippi, R., Ceccolini, A., Booth, E., Shen, C., Thomas, M.S.C., Toledano, M.B. & Dumontheil, I. Modulatory effects of SES and multilinguistic experience on cognitive development: a longitudinal data analysis of multilingual and monolingual adolescents. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.

Han, X., Li, W., Filippi, R., (2022). The effects of habitual code-switching in bilingual language production on cognitive control. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, doi.org/10.1017/S1366728922000244.

Mercure, E., Bright, P., Quiroz, I., Filippi, R. (2022). Effect of infant bilingualism on audiovisual integration in a McGurk task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

Mercure, E., Bright, P., Quiroz, I., Filippi, R. (2022). Effect of infant bilingualism on audiovisual integration in a McGurk task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.


Filippi, R., Bright, P., (2021). Cognitive Reserve and Language Experience: Can Long-Term Use of Multiple Languages Protect Our Brains from the Effects of Aging? Frontiers in Psychology.

Filippi, R., Ceccolini, A., Bright, P., (2021). Trajectories of verbal fluency and executive functions in multilingual and monolingual children and adults: A cross-sectional study. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.


Filippi, R., Ceccolini, A., Periche-Tomas, E., Bright, P., (2020). Developmental trajectories of metacognitive processing and executive function from childhood to older age. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1747021820931096.

Filippi, R., Periche Tomas, E., Papageorgiou, A., & Bright, P. (2020). A role for the cerebellum in the control of verbal interference: Comparison of bilingual and monolingual adults. PloS one, 15(4), e0231288.

Filippi, R., Ceccolini, A., Periche-Tomas, E., Papageorgiou, A., Bright, P. (2020). Developmental trajectories of control of verbal and non-verbal interference in speech comprehension in monolingual and multilingual children. Cognition.

Phelps, J., Filippi, R. (2020). The multilingual world: building a bridge between science and education. Educational neuroscience volume on lifespan, individual differences, and enhancing cognition. Denis Mareschal, Iroise Dumontheil and Michael Thomas. Psychology Press (Taylor & Francis).

Filippi, R., Periche-Tomas, E., Papageorgiou, A., Bairaktari, O., Bright, P. (2020). Multilingualism and Cognitive Development. The Oxford Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (Oxford University Press).


Ouzia, J., Bright, P., Filippi, R. (2019). Attentional control in bilingualism: an exploration of the effects of trait anxiety and rumination on inhibition. Behavioural Sciences.

Bright, P., Filippi, R (2019). Perspective on the Bilingual Advantage: Challenges and Opportunities. Frontiers in Psychology, doi/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01346

Filippi, R., D’Souza, D. &  Bright, P. (2019). A Developmental Approach to Bilingual Research: The Effects of Multi-language Experience from Early Infancy to Old Age. Contemporary Studies in Bilingualism and Multilingualism (Masayo Yamamoto Eds). Sage Publications

Bright, P., Ouzia, J., Filippi, R. (2019). Multilingualism and Metacognitive Processing. In John W. Schwieter (Ed.) The Handbook of the Neuroscience of Multilingualism. Wiley-Blackwell


Filippi, R., D'Souza, D., & Bright, P. (2018). A Developmental Approach to Bilingual Research: The Effects of Multi-language Experience from Early Infancy to Old Age. International Journal of Bilingualism, 1-13

Filippi, R. (2018). Bilingual cognition and language: The state of the science across its subfield. First Language, 38, 669-671. doi:10.1177/0142723718802034

Papageorgiou, A., Bright, P., Periche Tomas, E., & Filippi, R. (2018). Evidence against a cognitive advantage in the older bilingual population. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1-10 doi:10.1177/1747021818796475

Mercure, E., Quiroz, I., Goldberg, L., Bowden-Howl, H., Coulson, K., Gliga, T., . . . Macsweeney, M. (2018). Impact of language experience on attention to faces in infancy: Evidence from unimodal and bimodal bilingual infants. Frontiers in Psychology, 9 ARTN 1943. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01943

D'Souza, D., & Filippi, R. (2018). Progressive modularization: Reframing our understanding of typical and atypical language development. First Language. 37, 518-529. doi:10.1177/0142723717720038

Naeem, K., Filippi, R., Periche-Tomas, E., Papageorgiou, A., & Bright, P. (2018). The Importance of Socioeconomic Status as a Modulator of the Bilingual Advantage in Cognitive Ability. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, ARTN 1818. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01818


D'Souza, D. & Filippi, R. (2017). Progressive modularization: reframing our understanding of typical and atypical language development. First Language Acquisition.


Folke, T., Ouzia, J., Bright, P., De Martino, B. & Filippi, R. (2016). A Bilingual Disadvantage in Metacognitive processes. Cognition, 150, 119-132

Kerrigan, L., Thomas, M.S.C., Bright, P., & Filippi, R. (2016). Evidence of an advantage in visual-spatial memory for bilingual compared to monolingual speakers. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 1-11


Filippi, R., Morris, J., Richardson, F., Bright, P., Thomas, M.S.C, Karmiloff-Smith, A., and Marian, V. (2015). Bilingual children show an advantage in controlling verbal interference during spoken language comprehension. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 18(03), 490-501.

Filippi, R. (2015). Antecollis: case report. Reactions, 1573, 182-17.


Filippi, R., Rasetti, M., Lenzi, M., Bright, P. (2014). Possible effects of pramipexole on neck muscles in a patient with Parkinson's disease. Oxford Medical Case Report, 2014(1), 8-10


Filippi, R., Karaminis, T., Thomas, M.S.C. (2013). Bilingual language switching in production: empirical and computational studies. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 17, 294-315


Filippi, R., Leech, R., Thomas, M.S.C., Green, D.W., and Dick, F.,  (2012). A bilingual advantage in controlling language interference during sentence comprehension. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 15(04), 858-872


Filippi, R., Richardson, F., Dick, F., Leech, R., Green, D.W., Thomas, M.S.C., and Price, C.J.  (2011). The right posterior paravermis and the control of verbal interference. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(29): 10732-10740


Richardson, F., Thomas, M.S.C, F., Filippi, R., Harth, H., and Price, C.J. (2009). Contrasting effects on vocabulary knowledge on temporal and parietal brain structures across lifespan. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 83, 109-113.

Public engagement 


AAAL conference Portland, 2023 - Dr Xuran Han

Xuran Han at AAAL conference in Portland. Credit: Xuran Han.
Dr Xuran Han presented her latest research co-authored with Professor Li Wei and Professor Roberto Filippi on how bilingual language use experience affects adults' spontaneous language production behaviours and their domain-general cognitive control. 

The study highlighted the importance of language use experience in modulating bilinguals’ deployments of cognitive control in language processing. By shedding light on the adaptation of cognitive and behavioural responses to individual's language use and experience, the outcome of this research furthers scientific understanding on the cognitive mechanisms underlying language processing, and consequently assist the improvement in language and cognition assessments, as well as in clinical language therapy. 


" To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world."

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